From the AFC South to the NFC West for the game's top cornerback

Ramsey traded to Rams for two firsts

Jaguars Jalen Ramsey
Photo via: Jaguars/Facebook

Jalen Ramsey finally got his way and is on his way out of Jacksonville.

The deal

This isn't too far from what the Texans gave up for Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills. It is a hefty price to pay for cornerback help after they traded away Marcus Peters and put Aqib Talib on injured reserve.

This is a desperation move for the Rams who are squarely in win-now mode. It will be interesting to see how they work Ramsey into a future that includes heavy prices for Aaron Donald, Jared Goff, and Todd Gurley.

As for the Jaguars, there is almost no chance a player of Ramsey's talent is available where the Jaguars select using these Rams picks. But, Ramsey clearly wasn't playing for them. They might have done the best they could do in regards of what deals they could get for the stud cornerback.

Rams outlook

This doesn't help their offense but my goodness their defense got so much better. They have the best defensive lineman in football and now the best player in the secondary in the NFL.

Wade Phillips has to be smiling from ear to ear with this move. Especially after they lost one stud corner to injury and one was moved.

Not to mention, they helped fortify their offensive line with another trade with the Browns as well. This doesn't immediately flip everything, but the Rams are much much better than when the game finished against the 49ers.

Jaguars outlook

​The Jaguars lose a leader and stud on defense while gaining a roster spot that was occupied by a player that wasn't going to play for them in 2019. This doesn't help the Jaguars at all in 2019 but it helps fortify a team down the road that might be cash strapped when looking to add talent.

It isn't the best move in the world, but once Ramsey made it clear he wasn't playing for the Jaguars this was the only move.

AFC South outlook

The Texans, Titans, and Colts have to be breathing a sigh of relief right now. To see a player of Ramsey's talent exit the division is huge. The Titans take over as the best cornerback room in the division but the Colts are no slouches either. It also ends the best 1-on-1 matchup in football which is DeAndre Hopkins and Jalen Ramsey when those two square off in what used to be a twice-yearly headline.

NFC West Outlook

The Rams defense is now the second-best unit behind the 49ers. They also now have the best secondary in the division when you factor in the depth of their safety spot and what Ramsey brings to the table. The 49ers and Seahawks have already missed Ramsey once, so the Cardinals will get the Ramsey experience twice. This could tip the scales towards the Rams in an intense matchup between Seattle or the 49ers if their offense could get going.

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Have the Astros turned the corner? Photo by Jack Gorman/Getty Images.

One presumes the Chicken Littles have stopped clucking about the Astros’ season being a goner, or if not gone, on life support. It wasn’t when they were 7-19. It wasn’t when they were 12-24. It certainly isn’t now that they’ve won six straight games and eight of their last nine. Another three or four weeks of inept play could have doomed them, but the worm has turned. A 20-25 record is no cause for celebration, but it has the Astros within four games of first place. Yes, getting to play the A’s four times this week helped. And?

I detailed the schedule issue on our Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast this week. The Astros were flat lousy for the season’s first six weeks. But… Starting the week the Astros had played a whopping 32 of their 40 games against teams with a winning record as of Monday. The Seattle Mariners had played 23 such games, the Texas Rangers only 16. The Philadelphia Phillies have been sensational so far and are fully legit. But… The Phillies entered the weekend having played three games vs. teams now sporting a winning record. Three! Out of 45 games. Going into this weekend's series only the Blue Jays, White Sox, and Angels had played more games against winning teams than had the Astros. It’s not mere coincidence that the Blue Jays, White Sox, and Angels are the three last place teams in the American League. The Astros were not up to the challenge of their first quarter schedule, but by no means did it render them dead, particularly in the thus far Mild, Mild, American League West.

A good Brewers team visits Minute Maid Park for three games this weekend. The Astros beat their best starter Friday night. Next the Astros get the pathetic Angels here for three before a three-game series at Oakland. Meanwhile the West leading Mariners start a ten-game road trip this weekend: three at the excellent Orioles, four at the excellent Yankees, three at the respectable Nationals. The Astros stand a good chance of overtaking the M’s by the end of this month if they can win the four-game series they open Memorial Day in Seattle.

Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers snapped a five game losing streak Wednesday to eke back over .500 at 23-22. The reigning World Series champs hope to get somewhat well vs. the Angels in Arlington this weekend but dropped the series opener to drop back to .500. For their sake they better because the Rangers then hit the road for Philadelphia and Minnesota.

Naturally, many Astros fans are upset with Ronel Blanco serving a 10 game suspension for illegally using whatever substance on his glove and non-pitching hand. The suspension is basically automatic. The suspension is also not a big problem. Blanco has been fantastic since getting a starting rotation spot only because of Justin Verlander’s delayed start to his season. It’s said that all life owes us is opportunity. Man, did Blanco seize his. With just seven big league starts to his name before entering this season as a 30-year old, Blanco has made eight this season with a sparkling 2.09 earned run average. So, what’s that about the suspension is not a big problem?

Blanco will miss one start and have another pushed back a day or two. That’s just not a big deal. In fact it may be helpful in the bigger picture. With last year being the first time in his professional career that Blanco topped 100 innings pitched (125 1/3), the Astros need to be wary of Blanco’s workload which is on pace to blow past last year’s career-high innings total. J.P. France probably pitched over his head for a while last year, but went well past his prior career-high innings total and faded badly. Cristian Javier was tremendous in 2022 while pitching more than in any previous year, but he pitched even more in 2023 and faded badly.

Alex Bregman lives! After being nearly inconceivably inept through the first quarter of the season, the Alex awakening in the Oakland series was not shocking but most welcomed. Over his first 37 games Bregman had a paltry seven extra base hits. Even with a feeble .201 batting average and .534 OPS, that Bregman had scored just eight runs over those 37 games was hard to believe. Then Monday and Tuesday saw five extra base hits and four runs scored.

In a trade not commanding any headlines, Dana Brown Wednesday sent outfielder Corey Julks to the White Sox for 20-year-old low minor league pitcher Luis Rodriguez. There is now no reason to call it a great Astros trade but Brown made a smart deal. Julks had no future here, hence he would have been released if no deal was struck. Taking a flyer on a young arm can’t hurt. Frankly, the White Sox are dumb to trade a young arm of any promise whatsoever for a 28-year-old outfielder with limited value. Julks was a nice story for parts of last season. The Clear Brook High School grad and UH product had a couple windows of production, highlighted by a sizzling nine game 17 for 34 stretch straddling June and July. Alas, not two weeks later Julks began what would become an 0 for 36 nightmare. He was sent to the minors for good in late-August.

*Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via The SportsMap HOU YouTube channel or listen to episodes in their entirety at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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